Antibiotics for Acute Bronchitis
How It Works
Antibiotics slow or stop the growth of bacteria or kill them.
Why It Is Used
If you have no other health problems, experts recommend that antibiotics not be used for acute bronchitis.1 Whether your doctor prescribes antibiotics and what type depend on the type of infection you have, your age, any other medical conditions you have, and your risk of complications from acute bronchitis, such as pneumonia.
How Well It Works
Research on antibiotics and acute bronchitis reports that:2
Different types of antibiotics have different side effects. Common side effects include:
A recent large study shows that people who take erythromycin along with certain common medicines may increase their risk of sudden cardiac death.3 The study showed that the risk of sudden cardiac death is greater when erythromycin is taken with some medicines that inhibit certain liver enzymes—such as certain calcium channel blockers, certain antifungal medicines, and some antidepressants—than when these medicines are not taken together.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
The benefits of antibiotics for acute bronchitis are small and must be weighed against the risk of side effects and the possibility of antibiotic resistance.
If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
Although smokers with acute bronchitis receive antibiotics more than nonsmokers, antibiotics are no more effective in smokers than in nonsmokers.4
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
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